Public university boards, and the presidents or chancellors they appoint, have a delicate line to walk between the political realities of contemporary higher education and the academic realities of effective universities. The nexus of politics and academics is not always tidy. But when politics win everyone loses.

“All politics are local.”

Tip O’Neil


University boards are made up of political appointees in most states. In some, they are elected and become politicians: running campaigns, promising support for key issues in response to voter interest, maybe even providing scholarships for family members, arranging jobs for friends and carrying all of the other baggage of electoral politics – evidently necessary but patently detrimental to the cause – behaving exactly as too many elected officials.